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Korea’s online shopping industry grows to record $52.31 billion

January 2, 2014

By Park Ji-won

Korea’s online shopping industry grew strongly last year as retailers opened more online shops to avoid government regulations on their offline businesses, data showed Thursday.

The transaction volume of online malls, including mobile stores, increased to a record high of 55 trillion won ($52.31 billion) in 2013, up 14.6 percent from 48 trillion won the year before, according to data accumulated by the Korea On-Line Shopping Association.

The figure is expected to grow to some 65 trillion won this year, up some 18 percent year-on-year. The volume was 48 trillion won and 55 trillion won in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

“The overall shopping environment, such as consumers’ shopping behavior, is shifting to enhance the online sector. The government regulation on retailers not to open new offline stores could be one factor leading to this trend,” analyst Hong Sung-soo at NH Investment & Securities said.

“The online market is likely to grow year by year for at least five years.”

Online retailers selling goods at social commerce and open markets have been aggressively competing with each other to take a share of online market, increasing investment in online marketing last year, especially in mobile commerce. Offline players such as supermarkets and department stores even fortified mobile shopping services to link mobile with offline outlets.

The transaction volume in mobile shopping stores is expected to surpass 1 trillion won this year backed by the increased number of unique visitors (UV) in mobile, the data showed. The volume was 600 billion won in 2011.

The mobile sector is expected to account for some 15 percent of the entire online market this year, up 14 percent from 2011.

Meanwhile, the share of internet shopping malls is expected to drop to 69 percent this year from 80 percent in 2011.

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